The Top 3 Property Claims for Houses of Worship – And How to Prevent Them

By Mary Carder, Integrated Marketing Specialist on September 9, 2021

Religious organizations who are proactive in avoiding these common risks can better help protect their places of worship and their members.


Incidents happen. It’s a truth we’ve come to know well in the insurance industry. But identifying your risks as a faith-based organization and working to mitigate them can help protect what is truly important to you and your members. To help you better secure your house of worship, we’ve compiled our claims data over the past few years and singled out the top three property risks to worship centers.


1. Most Common Claim: Wind/Hail:


Why it’s so common:

From the cosmetic to the catastrophic, wind and hail cause the most property claims. Even a small storm can cause damage to buildings. And, as we have seen in the past few years, churches and temples located in typically temperate climates are facing new, more intense and more frequent threats from Mother Nature.


How to help prevent it:

One of the best ways to help prevent weather-related damage to your worship center is to conduct routine assessments and maintenance. Staying on top of these with roofing, siding and other exterior surfaces can help your worship center to withstand day-to-day wear and tear from weather.

For severe weather events, information is key. Identify your area’s risk for hailstorms and other severe weather. Stay informed about upcoming storms in your area, and create emergency action plans that include weather-proofing. Consider these additional preventive measures:

  • Enhance structural integrity and increase impact resistance by upgrading roofing and windows
  • Secure protective tarps over windows, statues, entrance ways, outdoor equipment or other areas most susceptible to damage
  • Move vehicles from open parking lots to closed garages
  • Install metal awnings to help lessen the impact of hail
  • Install overhead protection for outdoor wells, generators, electrical distribution panels, etc.


2. Most Expensive Claim: Fire  


Why it’s so expensive:

Simply put: fire destroys nearly everything. For many worship centers who have faced fire claims, it’s not about repairing items; it’s replacing them. Even if structures are untouched by flame during a fire, they can still be damaged beyond repair from smoke or water used to extinguish the blaze. Additionally, many local ordinances call for entire buildings to demolished in order to rebuild if a fire has damaged the property beyond 50%, which can lead to a price tag of several million dollars.


How to help prevent it:

Regularly complete a fire prevention checklist to help prevent your worship center from experiencing a costly and devastating fire. Make sure your checklist includes:

  • Testing smoke detectors and changing batteries every six months
  • Annual inspections of sprinkler systems
  • Servicing fire extinguishers every year and placing within 50-75 feet of any point within the property
  • Keeping areas surrounding water heaters, furnaces and other combustibles clear from clutter and debris
  • Getting to know your neighbors – assessing the risk that neighboring operations may pose to your building
  • Yearly maintenance and cleaning of kitchen ducts and exhaust systems
  • Upgrading to automatic extinguishing systems over cooking areas and inspecting them every six months

3. Runner Up: Water Damage


Why we’re adding it to the list:

Water damage ranks in the top 3 of the most common and most expensive claims for worship centers. A burst pipe, especially in a building that is only occupied during certain periods of the week, can wreak havoc on flooring, walls and even foundations—without anyone knowing.


How to help prevent it:

Prevent frozen pipes from bursting by keeping your church at a temperature that prevents freezing. Other action items can include:

  • Installing electronic sensors to help alert you via text if and when a leak occurs
  • Annual service and maintenance checks on HVAC systems
  • Regular inspections of insulation around susceptible pipes before and during periods of cold weather
  • Weather-proofing windows and doors
  • Monitoring levels of antifreeze solution within sprinkler systems
  • Verifying dampers work on air-handling units and fans are controlled by thermostat for automatic shutdown in the event of freezing temperatures

Working in insurance gives you a new perspective on the risks that are out there—but also possible solutions to help better protect buildings and people. We take risk management very seriously. For more risk reduction resources and checklists designed specifically for worship center, visit our Risk Control Center.


Get more property maintenance tips

Mary Carder, Integrated Marketing Specialist


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